How to Code a Love Letter to the Next Developer – Software
As the digital age has exploded, the need for skilled coders and programmers in Australian businesses has also increased.
In fact, recent research from Indeed revealed that programmers are one of the more jobs in demand in Australia, representing one of the largest numbers of positions and the greatest potential for growth.
Ultimately, writing code that other humans can understand is really what sets the skill sets of the two jobs apart. After years of working on startup and established projects, I realized that there is one overriding factor a developer must consider when making decisions: clean coding.
Although this may seem overly simplistic, it has the ability to influence the entire lifespan of a project and its results. What defines a project as successful often boils down to the notion of maximizing value for the company. So how can your company’s code maximize its value? Here I look at how reliable and adaptable code can be achieved.
Write and delete, then repeat
Yevgeniy Brikman, co-founder of Gruntwork, previously provided a streamlining method that I use extensively. Its 10 to 1 rule states that for every line of code currently in the master branch, 10 lines will have been written and deleted. By reviewing your code according to this principle, it will be reliable, readable and primed to be quickly optimized. For many small businesses and startups, this is more valuable than reaching a “mature code” state, which often involves long, uninterrupted periods of constant development and maintenance.
For example, at AgriWebb, we have 1,412,670 lines of code in all of our key repositories, but we’ve written 11,261,374 in total. This translates to an eight-to-one code churn rate. By all rules, this code is immature, however, it is fully functional in its current state, bringing real value to the business. What’s important to note is that different aspects of the business will have code at varying stages of maturity, but what defines their value is their ability to react and adapt with code. own. Undeniably, this approach to coding will take more time initially, but investing your time in clean coding will set your work up for long-term success.
write a love letter
For developers, viewing code as a love letter to the next team member, even if you’re the only one, helps maintain a coding standard across the board and allows you to iterate quickly. It creates a bootstrapped codebase for maintainability that you can quickly expand on and respond to a problem or business opportunity. It works according to the saying “slow is smooth, smooth is fast”, helping to optimize the whole, rather than rushing the immediate task and slowing down the overall process.
That doesn’t mean your coding has to be perfect, though. In fact, accepting that your version 1 product is likely to be flawed is the first step to maximizing business value. What will achieve reliability, adaptability and added value is streamlined coding. This should be at the core of all decisions and trade-offs a developer makes to ensure short- and long-term success and value.
Ultimately, there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution for all coding-related issues, but the key thing to remember is that respecting your code and the next developer should be a priority in all decision-making. This respect, or treating your code like a love letter, will bring you strength in performance, reliability and adaptability. By doing so, your code and project will receive the best configuration to succeed.
David Horne is AgriWebb’s Chief Technology Officer.